BLOOMINGTON —Nevermind that Kellie Rumps came from a family of bow hunters. She had told her dad, Pete Jacobson, that she’d never marry one. Jacobson remembers his response.
“That’s OK, Kellie, we’ll convert him,” he said.
And he did.
Today, Kellie is married to bow hunter Jim Rumps, who never fired an arrow before meeting Kellie’s dad. Rumps also is founder and co-owner of Select Archery & Outdoor Supply in Crossroads Center, the former outlet mall located on Wylie Drive on Bloomington’s west edge.
Select’s online sales started several years ago, and last year the website had 2.5 million visits. The brick-and-mortar store opened in December with sales, service and an indoor archery range for target practice and league shooting. The store hopes to eventually organize ladies’ nights and specific times for kids.
Business is brisk this time of year. Bow hunting for white-tail deer began Friday. The sport is wildly popular in Illinois. Bow hunters harvested about 65,000 deer in each of the last two years. Archery deer permits rose from about 140,000 in 1998 to more than 220,176 last year. Hunters like the three-month season that offers more opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and take home a quality deer than the firearm deer season, which lasts only seven days.
Rump’s conversion to bow hunting began one day when he visited his future in-laws at their home near Manito. After a quick lesson in the yard, Rumps sailed five arrows at the target one after another.
“Pulling the bow back just felt great,” said Rumps, 33, who also teaches English and philosophy at Normal Community West High School.
But his first day hunting didn’t go as well. Three problems surfaced immediately after Jacobson sent him up a tree to wait for a passing deer. First, Rumps was afraid of heights. Two, the wind was blowing so hard the tree swayed dangerously. And three, Rumps didn’t notice a camouflaged folded chair attached to the tree stand. As a result, he spent several nervous hours standing up, hugging the tree and hoping his safety harness would hold.
“I saw my life flash in front of me many times, but I didn’t see any deer,” said Rumps, laughing.
Jacobson came back, climbed the tree and asked Rumps how things were going. Rumps said OK, but added that a chair would be nice. That’s when Pete pointed to the seat tipped against the trunk. The incident still gets a chuckle. Friends who’ve heard the story show up at the store from time to time to tell Rumps they’d like to buy a tree stand, but they’d like one with a seat.
Rumps’ next hunting experience was better. He downed a doe first. When he radioed Jacobson with the news, his
father-in-law told him another deer might show up any time so stay put. Sure enough, a buck appeared and Rumps downed it, too. His wife named the six-pointer “Lucky.”
“That was because she said I’d be lucky to ever hang another deer in the house,” Rumps said. “Lucky is now the smallest deer hanging in the store.”
Rumps said some customers who practice Select Archery’s range never plan to sway in a tree stand. They pay $5 an hour just to shoot targets to develop the precise skills that archery requires. Others come to hone their accuracy to harvest deer more humanely.
Jacobson, 57, who has numerous white-tails, several black bears, an antelope, an elk, mule deer, a mountain lion and others to his credit, recommends practice until a hunter can hit a pie plate repeatedly at 40 yards, a distance much closer than necessary with a shotgun. That fact explains why many hunters who once used firearms exclusively to hunt deer have made the switch to bows and arrows
“It’s the challenge,” said Tom Anderson, 35, an avid bow hunter and the bow technician at Select Archery who has a 16-point buck to his credit. “Your average shot is 20 yards. Gun is 100 yards.”
Anderson, of Shirley and formerly of Bloomington, has experience to compare the two sports. His father, also named Tom Anderson, taught him to hunt smaller game with a shotgun, and he still uses one to harvest does during firearm season. He learned to bow hunt while still a teenager from his uncles Dave Petersen and Ken Petersen, who also is a top Central Illinois bass angler. Since then, Tom Anderson has studied ways to conceal himself from wary white-tails. He uses natural animal scent and special clothing to cover human odor.
Pete Jacobson said scouting is just as important as stealth. Before the season, he spends hours hiking his hunting land to see where deer are eating acorns in the timber, or grain from the food plots he’s planted on the property. Based on what he learns, he erects several tree stands so he can choose the one that will be downwind from the path he expects deer to use on a given day.
Even then, patience is key. Hours may pass before a deer walks by. That’s why his tree stands come with chairs.